Gardening For Beginners: Tips & Tricks For Novices

Are you a new homeowner, or a novice gardener, looking to change up your yard as the growing season gets underway?  Good for you!  And here are a few tips and things to remember to help you get started.

For starters, keep in mind that yards and gardens are like kids… they need frequent tending and supervision.  They are a commitment, not something you can get going and then leave to their own devices.

Begin by cleaning up the winter debris—removing leaves, pine needles and trimming away dead branches and bushes—from your property.  Now you’ll have a cleaner canvas from which to develop a plan.

Will you want to install a sprinkler system, or can you manage all of your watering needs via hose and the outdoor faucets?  Depending on the amount of sun your yard receives, as well as the amount of rainfall you might get, you could be watering as often as every couple of days or as infrequently as once every ten days or less.  But bottom line, it’s going to need water from one source or another.

Start Small

If this is your first year tending to a garden, ease yourself in slowly.  Whether you’re planting flowers or vegetables or a combination of both, vigilance is required.

Weeds somehow have a tendency to grow twice as fast as your plants.  Not only can a garden go from looking beautiful to looking ragged in a matter of days, the undesirable plants will begin to choke out the desirable ones.

Make a trip to your local garden center or nursery before you plant or even till the ground.  It’s well worth the time to consult with an expert who can advise you as to what plans will thrive in your area, as well as the type of soil you may have on your property, and what fertilizers and plant foods work best.

Don’t spend your money on things that look nice in magazine photos or in yards you’ve seen where the growing conditions might be very different than yours.  Learn the optimum time for planting, and which things can—and should—be started earlier in indoor pots in order to have a head start when you transplant them.

After you’ve spent a full season caring for a smaller section of yard or garden and you have a better understanding of the time and commitment level it will require to keep things looking beautiful, you can decide if you’d like to undertake a larger area next year.  You’ll find this is a better way to ease yourself into yard work and gardening, rather than becoming overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated by having bitten off more than you can chew.

And of course, the capable craftsmen at Handyman Matters are available to help with any and all aspects of giving your yard and garden the appearance you would like it to have—anything from tilling the ground, to putting up a fence, to pouring concrete for a new patio, and all tasks in between.  Call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME to talk to the Handyman Matters location nearest you!

Inspecting Your Home For Winter Damage

As the days get longer and warmer, our attention naturally turns toward spring and summer activities, but this is also an ideal time to do a walk-through of your home and property to determine what damage or weathering this past winter may have caused.

Check your gutters, eaves and downspouts.  When snow melts and refreezes on your roof, it causes ice dams to form.  Over time, this ice continues to build up, blocking water from draining.  The longer it remains, the more water will seep into—and through—the roofing materials, prompting leaks.  Ice dams will also begin to push gutters away from the house.

Ice also creates “freeze thaw” in cement and asphalt, leading to cracks and splits on your sidewalks and in your driveway.  These will widen and deepen over time, so the sooner you can manage repairs, the easier and less costly they will be.  Likewise, your home’s foundation can succumb to this same problem, especially if water pools against it, freezing and thawing repeatedly throughout the winter months, creating slow, insistent damage.

Extreme temperatures—both heat and cold—take their toll on your home.  Water promotes both rot and mold.  Heat causes peeling paint and cracked vinyl.  Conduct an inspection to see if the harsh winter months have created any of these problems on your property.

Inspect roof shingles to make sure all are intact and secure.  Check to make certain that the trees on your property, particularly those closest to your house are healthy and trimmed, with no cracked or damaged branches that could fall and cause significant damage later.

Look at all outside faucets closely.  Test them to make sure no pipes have frozen or cracked.  Don’t leave water running on your yard or garden for any length of time unsupervised until you know there isn’t a leak creating havoc somewhere inside or beneath your home.

Many homeowners think to have their furnaces serviced and their fireplaces cleaned in the autumn before colder weather sets in, but spring can be a more efficient time to attend to these details.  You won’t be using them during the summer months, and the professionals who provide these services will likely be able to get to you right away.

Thirty minutes spent now to evaluate how well your home came through the winter can eliminate surprises and unexpected repairs further down the road.  Your local Handyman Matters office stands ready to provide assistance with both a survey of your property and in repairing in problems that come to light in the process.  Call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code at to locate the office nearest you.